August 27, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Jeremy O. Harris Commission

Life imitates art imitates life imitates . . . you get the idea. And in this case, real life imitates TV life, with The Public announcing its commission of Jeremy O. Harris’s work The Bloody and Lamentable Tale of Aaron after its ‘debut’ on this season of the Gossip Girl reboot. 

Read more: www.nytimes.com 

2 – Harmony Will Have NYC Debut This Spring

Thrilled that NYTF has announced new dates for Harmony and honored to be helping bring this important piece by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman to NY. See you all at the theater!

Read more: www.theatermania.com 

3 – New Deal for Broadway

It’s A New Deal! Read all about it below. And thank you to Black Theatre United and all those who sat down to determine the best way to move forward to a better Broadway. It takes us all to do our part.

Read more: www.deadline.com  

4 – Places, Please Short Film

Bravo to Danny Burstein, Krysta Rodriguez, and the Places, Please team for creating such a timely piece of art for this community. I cannot wait to see the finished film! Watch the full trailer below. 

Read more: www.broadwayworld.com  

5 – NY TV Production Back to Pre-pandemic Levels

TV production is once again roaring throughout NYC thanks to safety guidelines and mandates set by the industry. Can’t wait for live theater to be included in this headline . . . soon!

Read more: www.backstage.com 

Fun on a Friday: 

We’re officially less than one month away (!!) from the highly anticipated Tony Awards. Watch the 2019 opening number to get excited!

Watch the video here:

 

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RESEARCH ALERT: How many locations are in the average musical anyway?

I’ve read a lot of scripts. It’s one of the best parts of the job. The excitement of swiping past the first page . . . hoping I’m about to find the next Hamilton.

It’s the producer’s version of panning for gold.

Of course, no script comes out as a polished piece. There are always notes . . . whether it’s your first draft of your seventy-first.

And there are THREE notes that I find I give more often than others. And, there are THREE notes I GET more often than others on my own work. That’s right, I’m in the trenches of this theatermaking thing just like you.

One of those three notes I give is . . .

“The script has too many locations.”

(Variations include:  “too cinematic,” “How do we transition from one scene to another so quickly,” etc.)

See, locations affect how a show moves. It affects the cohesiveness of the storytelling. And it affects the budget.

So yeah, it’s important.

I gave this note recently and the writer said, “How many should I have?”

I answered my usual response. 

“There are no hard and fast rules. You have to write the show you want to write, but . . . “

“Well, is there a common number of locations for successful shows,” the Writer interrupted.

And I did not have an answer. Then.

But I do now.

I put our crackerjack research assistant, Andrew, on the case. (You might remember him as the guy who did a TikTok video about wanting to work with me – so we hired him.) Andrew prepared some stats that I found fascinating, so I had to share.

Here’s what we did, and what we discovered:

I asked Andrew to look at some classic musicals from decades past, to see what the trend was back in the day. So we analyzed the scripts of:

  • Oklahoma
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • Guys and Dolls
  • The Music Man
  • West Side Story
  • Hello Dolly
  • Fiddler On The Roof
  • Cabaret

The average # of unique locations in those classics? 10. (Note: location means a “set” not a scene.)

Interesting, right? Immediately gives you a guideline of what has worked before.

But then I wondered. Has this changed since the 40s, 50s, and 60s?  

What is the average # of locations now?

So we analyzed the scripts of the following musicals, which were all written in the last ten years:

  • Memphis
  • Book of Mormon
  • Matilda
  • Kinky Boots
  • A Gentleman’s Guide
  • Hamilton
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • The Band’s Visit

 

The average # of locations in these musicals? 16.

And there you go.

Over the years, the # of locations in musicals has increased by 60%.  

Why?

Technology is one reason, of course. We can move things faster now. We’ve got projections.  We’ve got automation. And more. So why not have more locations?

But I think it’s also because our audiences demand more. They see more movement in other forms of media. They have shorter attention spans. They want and expect a slicker, smoother entertainment experience.

Either way, I now have an answer to that writer’s question. And you can have a guide to use for your show.

Does this mean this is the required # of locations in musicals? That all shows must adhere to this stat like it’s the law?

Absolutely not.

But before you break something to make it better, you have to know how it works in the first place.
Want to see the other TWO most common notes I give?  (That are more important that the above).  Join our Facebook group. I just posted ‘em in there.

August 20, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Pass Over Rush Policy

Broadway is back and so is one of its most exciting practices . . . rush tickets! Read all about Pass Over’s newly announced rush policy and, if you haven’t already, grab your tickets to this incredible production. 

Read more: www.broadwayworld.com 

 

2 – Ticket Sales

If the data mentioned here is true, it isn’t surprising. In terms of uncertainty (thanks, Delta Variant), people hesitate. Don’t you? And sales trends for EVERYTHING tend to be more last minute. Think of it this way . . . if you hear there is a snowstorm for this weekend, when do you wait to decide what you are going to do? Maybe hours before. That is what is happening here. And when we get More Vaccinations, More Mandates, More People being eligible for vaccines, the velocity of ticket sales will increase. And the week these shows open? Check and see if you can get a seat.

Read more: www.nbc.com 

 

3 – Chicago Venues Require Proof of Vax

Another day, another step forward for live theater everywhere. Multiple theaters in Chicago, including Steppenwolf and Goodman Theatre, will require proof of vaccinations for their audiences. Continually proud of the theater industry setting the standard and doing what is right.

Read more: www.playbill.com  

 

4 – Camille Brown

A major congratulations to Once on this Island choreographer, Camille Brown! I can’t wait to see yet another familiar face on Broadway this season. 

Read more: www.playbill.com  

 

5 – The Show IS Going On

Honored to be quoted in this article and get a chance to applaud the courageous Producers and Artists on Broadway and all over who are pushing through this pandemic and giving the gift of their art to all of us. Because we need the theater now more than ever.

Read more: www.reuters.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

Watch some of Broadway’s favorites pay tribute to NYC’s return with one of Billy Joel’s most recognizable songs. 

 

Watch the video here:

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My Job

Someone asked me what I did yesterday.

I was about to launch into my usual long-winded description of a Producer’s tasks.

Then, instead, I blurted out . . .

“I get people in a room.”

Think about it, that’s what Producers do.

We have an idea. We want it to happen. So we put people in a room who can make it so.  We put Writers in a room. We put a Director with that Writer. And Designers. Then we put Actors, and all sorts of other TheaterMakers.

And when it all goes well, they make something extraordinary.

Even when it doesn’t go well, they still make something where there was nothing before. And that alone is extraordinary.

And eventually, we put an Audience in that room too!

And for me, there is nothing more exciting than putting passionate people in a room to see what happens next. Because something awesome always does.

That’s why we started a free Facebook group of TheaterMakers. And in just a few months, it has gone from a few hundred members to over 1,500.

And, get this . . . extraordinary things are happening to the people in that group!

Like . . .

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But I could have told you that was going to happen.  Because whenever you put passionate, positive people together in the same place who all love the same thing (in this case, the theater), the energy, things just happen!

If you’re a TheaterMaker or TheaterFan, join. Meet future collaborators. Get advice from peers on how to create a demo for cheap. Find out the best practices for streaming readings.

But join . . . and watch how it helps you do whatever you want to do in the theater.

I’ll see you in the group.

Join here.

Podcast Episode #246: An Off Broadway Model On Broadway

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE: 9 Minutes

LISTEN WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS:

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

I arrived in New York City during the Golden Age of Off-Broadway. Forever Plaid, Nunsense, And The World Goes Round, Cryptogram, Family Secrets, and more, were a few of the shows running in theaters under 499 seats . . . in commercial productions! And many actually recouped!  

When I started creating and producing commercial theater, I started Off-Broadway. I wasn’t ready to raise $10mm for Broadway shows (which is what they were then . . . compared to the $15-20mm they are now). I wanted to be a Lead Producer and didn’t have the decision-making experience yet. And, well, the ideas I had come up with were Off-Broadway ideas (my first three shows were The Awesome 80s Prom, Altar Boyz and My First Time).

So that’s where I started. 

No one told me that in the fifteen years since I arrived in NYC, the Off-Broadway model changed. 

AFTER YOU LISTEN:

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE!)
  • REVIEW the Podcast on Apple Podcast (it’s the biggest compliment you can give)
  • SHARE this episode with your friends!
  • JOIN the TheaterMakers Facebook Group

 

My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

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